Tag Archives: cheltenham

Merry Christmas from Cheltenham (even though politics is a steaming pile of mess)

This is a Christmas message with a difference. I make no apologies for the colourful nature of the story and I assure you it is absolutely 100% true.

When I was delivering the Liberal Democrat Christmas cards the other day I noticed on the pavement the largest pile of dog’s business I had seen in some time. “What a calamity,” I thought “That’s a big problem for whoever steps in it.” I was heartened, therefore, to see a man approaching the mess with a purposeful stride.

I could see he was going to solve the problem for the good of other people in his road, probably by picking it up and finding a bin. That was until I noticed he was carrying a large bucket of hot water. He then proceeded to pour it over the offending deposit. Naturally, rather than solving anything, this merely compounded the problem by spreading it around. I was carrying out my final campaigning act of 2017 and my political brain was therefore weary, but when reflecting on the scene I had witnessed later on that day I concluded it was the most appropriate metaphor for the political year: a fundamental problem was correctly identified by a public-spirited individual, but the chosen solution was ill-judged and left everyone else with a steaming mess to clear up. It’s not all bad news, though. In the spirit of good will to all, I’ve passed the person’s address to Theresa May with a suggestion he is promoted to Brexit Secretary. With problem-solving skills like those, he’ll fit right in.

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My time living on the streets of Cheltenham

As I woke up from my third night on the streets, I started to feel it.  Sleep deprivation had kicked in, so the word didn’t come to me immediately and it still hasn’t as I start to write this article at home in the warm.  Feeling unable to move my mouth to speak properly or even bring to mind the right words wasn’t a side effect I’d imagined.

Stretching in a vain attempt to rid my bones of the deepest imaginable chill, I was sure about one thing: I was in a very different position to the other people who had spent that Saturday night in the nooks and crannies of Cheltenham town centre.  As a council cabinet member for housing, I knew I could make changes to help and had already started to ask myself what should be done.  And answering that question is how I had found myself waking up on the streets.

As anyone involved in the public sector will tell you, the starting point of answering any question is usually some form of consultation.  This means anyone who may be affected by a policy change can have their say.  But in the case of rough sleepers or street people you can’t really ask the people whose lives will be most impacted.  When somebody’s main tasks every day are gathering a few pounds for a meal, staying warm and then finding a place to sleep, why would they bother to take part in something like a council consultation?  And if they’re living on the streets or in insecure accommodation it’s pretty unlikely they’d even find out in the first place.

To get over this hurdle I carried out my own hands-on consultation and my experiences over those three nights will stay with me for the rest of my life.  I won’t be able to shake off that uncomfortable feeling – the name of which I still can’t bring to my sleep deprived mind – for some time.  I’ll always remember the feelings of vulnerability and I’ll always remember the bone-creaking cold.

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“A day of celebration for resurgent Lib Dems”

It is so good not to feel completely crap on the day after an election. Sure, there has been some heartbreaking news from Wales in particular which we can’t forget about, but for the first time in years, there is more good news than bad.

If I had any talent for graphic design at all, I’d make this into a bar chart, but I don’t, so you just get the figures from the BBC website:

Summary of 2016 English local elections

Gaining more seats than any other party in England is not a bad result and shows that we are getting somewhere. It feels like we’ve managed to negotiate a juggernaut around one of those really steep mountain hairpins. The summit is still a way away, but at least we’re moving forward.

Cheltenham, where we lost the excellent MP Martin Horwood last year, was one such place. “A day of celebration for resurgent Lib Dems” is a headline you’ll never get tired of seeing. On Cheltenham Borough Council 20 seats were up and we won 15 of them, holding 10 and gaining 5. More from the Gloucestershire Echo:

Posted in News | 32 Comments

LibLink Special: Martin Horwood’s cartoon column for his local newspaper in tribute to Charlie Hebdo victims

Martin Horwood, Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham is also a skilled cartoonist.

He writes a regular column for the Gloucestershire Echo. This week, he felt it was time to pick up the pen again “for the right to write and draw and think in freedom.”

Martin Horwood cartoon column

 

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Martin Horwood MP writes…Pavement politics

Pavement_parking_1 by PeterEastern
It is a badge of honour for Lib Dem MPs, Councillors and activists when people call us pavement politicians. We are a party that is relentlessly focused on community politics and the issues that matter on streets up and down the country.

That’s why, when I was drawn earlier this year in the Private Member’s Bill ballot, I decided to champion a Bill focused on an issue that blights tens of thousands of streets across the country – pavement parking.

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3 to see: Lib Dem #GE2010 campaign coverage

Pushed for time, but want to keep up-to-date with how the campaign’s going? Here are today’s must-reads ….

Nick Clegg launching Scottish Lib Dem election campaign (BBC)

It will be almost like old times for the Lib Dems, with former leader Charles Kennedy joining Nick Clegg to launch the Lib Dems’ Scottish campaign – as CK himself tweeted earlier today. Here’s how the BBC reports it:

Mr Clegg will get the Scottish campaign under way in Glasgow along with Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott and senior party figures, including Charles Kennedy.

The party – Scotland’s second biggest in Westminster terms –

Posted in General Election | Also tagged , , , , , and | 1 Comment

Tory councillor in Cheltenham defects to Lib Dems

Here’s the text of the press release from Cheltenham Lib Dems just received by The Voice – the defection of Cllr Klara Sudbury from the Tories to Lib Dems takes Cheltenham Borough council from Lib Dem minority control (20 seats out of 40) to overall control.

County and borough councillor Klara Sudbury has today announced that she will be leaving the Conservative Party and applying to join the Liberal Democrats and the party’s groups on the county and borough councils.

Statement by county and district councillor Klara Sudbury

‘After giving it a great deal of thought I have decided to leave

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YouTube ‘cos we want to: an SDP special

If the SDP had lived on*, 2009 would have marked its 18th** 28th birthday – which spurious segue is all the excuse we need to dust off three video clips tracing its rise and fall.

Let’s begin at the beginning, with the explosion of the ‘Gang of Four’ – Roy, David, Shirley and Bill – onto the scene, here holding their first press conference in March 1981:

For a year or more it really did seem as if the SDP might truly break the mould of British politics. But the party was shattered by the results of the June 1983 general election, winning only six seats. Here’s the start of the BBC’s election night results programme.

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Former Lib Dem MP raises fear of sword attacker’s move

Today’s Telegraph reports on the concerns of former Cheltenham Lib Dem MP Nigel Jones, who was injured, and local councillor Andrew Pennington killed, in a brutal attack during a constituency surgery:

A former MP who was attacked by one of his constituents with a samurai sword fears for his safety after his assailant said he wants to move to a town just nine miles away. Lord Jones of Cheltenham is so concerned that Robert Ashman wants to live in nearby Gloucester that he is meeting Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to express his concerns. Ashman, now 58, stabbed and killed

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Who has more power? A council chief exec, council leader or a local MP?

One former Council chief executive is much in the news just now – Christine Laird, former managing director of Cheltenham Borough Council, is being sued for £1m by the authority, which claims she concealed her depressive illness. The BBC reports:

Her time at the council was marked by a series of disputes with the authority and its Liberal Democrat leader, Andrew McKinlay, with allegation and counter-allegation of inappropriate, unhelpful, obstructive and bullying conduct. Mrs Laird filed 25 official complaints to the watchdog Standards Board for England, of which only one was upheld. She also filed an application for a restraining

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments
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